CHICAGO, May 19, 2016—Many people expect to rely on Medicare and Social Security to pay for their long-term care needs as they age, according to a recent survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. This is the case even though these programs generally do not cover most longterm care services or costs. The survey also found that support is high for policies that help Americans save for long-term care and for those that defray the costs of caregiving, including state-paid family leave programs.

“This survey provides much-needed data on how people perceive the issue of long-term care in the United States,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “The need for long-term care services and support to assist seniors with activities of daily living is increasing exponentially. Financing high-quality services so that the costs are manageable for families and governments will remain a big challenge for decision-makers.”

In 2013, Americans age 65 or older made up only 14 percent of the national population, but by 2040, it is expected that the senior population will nearly double to comprise about 22 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services the majority of these seniors will require some form of long-term care. Long-term care refers to help with activities of daily living—such as cooking, bathing, or remembering to take medicine—that can be provided in a home or institutional setting.

“Older Americans of today and tomorrow have a 50 percent chance of living with substantial and often expensive daily needs,” said Dr. Bruce A. Chernof, President and CEO of The SCAN Foundation. “Medicare and Social Security were not built to cover long-term care costs, leaving American families unprotected, and as this survey shows, unaware of this fact.”

Key findings from the survey from adults age 40 and older:

  • While older Americans’ confidence in their financial preparedness for long-term care remains low overall, there has been a slight increase in public confidence over the past four years, consistent with other measures of consumer confidence post-recession, according to the Consumer Confidence Index. In 2013, 27 percent reported feeling very or extremely confident in their ability to pay for long-term care, increasing to 29 percent in 2014, 32 percent in 2015, and 36 percent in 2016.
  • When it comes to covering long-term care costs, older Americans with annual household incomes less than $50,000 are more likely to expect to rely on government programs such as Social Security,
    Medicare, and Medicaid, while those with higher incomes expect to rely more on personal savings to pay for their care. Still, 3 in 10 of these wealthier older Americans report that they will rely on Medicare to support their care as they age. This reflects common misperceptions among older Americans about the long-term care services that Medicare covers.
  • Most Americans age 40 and older (77 percent) would prefer to receive care in their own home, with far fewer preferring to receive care in a senior community (11 percent), a friend or family member’s home (4 percent), or a nursing home (4 percent). Among those who prefer to receive care in a home setting, there are gender differences in preferences for who provides that care: men would prefer to receive care from a spouse (51 percent vs. 33 percent), and women would prefer to receive care from their children (14 percent vs. 35 percent).
  • There is widespread support for policies to help caregivers face the costs of providing long-term care, with 72 percent supporting state programs to provide paid family leave, 83 percent supporting tax breaks for caregivers, and 73 percent supporting a Social Security earnings credit for caregivers taking time out from the workforce to provide care.
  • Forty-three percent have either past or current experience providing long-term care to a family member or close friend. Among those with experience as caregivers, 4 in 10 report having to miss work to provide long-term care to a loved one.
  • Prior experience with long-term care is associated with greater support for several policies to help people finance long-term care and policies to help alleviate costs for caregivers. Additionally, those with prior long-term care experience express higher levels of concern about aging and are more likely to anticipate that it is at least somewhat likely that a loved one will need care in the next five years, compared to those without experience.
  • One-third reported having done no planning at all for their own long-term care needs. This 2016 finding is similar to the 31 percent who said the same in 2015 and remains lower than the 47 percent and 44 percent who said they had done no planning in 2014 and 2013, respectively.

The 2016 survey on long-term care is a continuation of and expansion on a series of surveys on long-term care that began in 2013. The 2016 study extends the prior research and examines new topics, including how much people expect to rely on a variety of sources to pay for long-term care needs; preferences and expectations about where people might receive care and who should provide it; support for policy proposals to help prepare for costs of requiring and providing care, including paid family leave policies; and additional questions about long-term care insurance.

About the Survey
The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey of perceptions, experiences, and attitudes of Americans about long-term care was conducted from February 21 through March 27, 2013 with 1,019 adults age 40 or older. AP and NORC staff collaborated on all aspects of the study, with input from NORC’s Health Care Department and AP’s subject matter experts. This nationally representative survey was conducted by telephone with 797 respondents on landlines and 222 respondents on cell phones.

About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research
The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the

The Associated Press (AP) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP.

NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge.

The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

About The SCAN Foundation
The SCAN Foundation is dedicated to advancing a coordinated and easily navigated system of high-quality services for older adults that preserve dignity and independence.

About AmeriSpeak
NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel is the most scientifically rigorous multi-client household panel in the United States. Panelists are interviewed online and by phone. AmeriSpeak households are selected randomly from NORC’s National Sample Frame, the industry leader in sample coverage. The National Frame is representative of over 99 percent of U.S. households and includes additional coverage of hard-to-survey population segments, such as rural and low-income households, that are underrepresented in other sample frames. More information about AmeriSpeak is available at


Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at or (703) 217-6814 (cell); Ray Boyer for NORC at or (312) 330-6433; or Paul Colford for AP at